Landrum Human Resource Companies Blog


Health Care Reform Updates

ALandrum_obamacare_final_Layout 1vailable for Kindle and in paperback.   Click Here to view on Amazon.com

  “The Busy Business Owner’s Updated Guide to Health Care Reform: What You Need to Know”  

    by Ted A. Kirchharr

We have added a page to our blog that is designed to keep you updated and informed on current policies and/or changes in the Health Care Reform Law.  Updates will be posted on that page as we become aware of new developments.  Please visit often to stay current or sign up to receive email alerts.

To read about the latest updates to the Health Care Reform Law go to:  http://landrumhrblog.com/about/health-care-reform-law-updates/



It’s July 2nd –Have You talked To Your Employees about Fireworks Safety?

It’s July 2nd –Have You talked To Your Employees about Fireworks Safety?

 posted by Joni K. Humphreys on Wednesday, July 2, 2014

This weekend will be filled with red, white, and blue and it’s a good bet that your employees have made plans to celebrate!   And why not? Independence Day – the Fourth of July – the day to celebrate and honor our country!

I am reminded of a previous blog post by our President and CEO, H. Britt Landrum, Jr. a few years ago; “Independence Day: Reflection and Celebration” . His writing reminds us of how brave and wise the founding fathers of our country were and how we should never forget the wisdom displayed.

During this weekend of fun we also need to be reminded to be safe! So, as we plan our barbeque, pack our beach bag, or gather around the swimming pool let’s remember the safety rules and precautions we need to take. This is especially true if you or your employees plan to light a sparkler or firecracker in the backyard! Of course, to have a truly safe and fun 4th of July, go to a professional fireworks show!

We hope everyone has a very happy and safe Independence Day Holiday! Here are a few websites that offer great safety advice for your July 4th outdoor events:

The National Council on Fireworks Safety

USA.gov offers history and fun facts about Independence Day as well as Fireworks Safety Tips, Pool Safety, Boating Safety, and Barbeque Safety!

Kids Safety with Fireworks includes a great safety video.

National Fire Protection Association

july 4



Pay Now or Pay Later: Hawaii’s Fat Law’s Farm and the US Department of Labor

Pay Now or Pay Later: Hawaii’s Fat Law’s Farm and the US Department of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is geared up for another busy year of investigating wage and hour violations. One recent win for the Department and employees of Fat Law’s Farm, Inc. resulted in an order to pay a total of $460,000 for labor violations. $428,800 went to back wages and liquidated damages. $31,200 in civil money penalties was assessed because of the deplorable housing, safety and health conditions in direct violation of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.

Fat Law’s Farm produces and supplies herbs and vegetables in Hawaii for export to U.S. mainland and Canada. The company employed roughly 40 Filipino and southeastern Asian agricultural employees. In addition to wages, workers were provided housing on the farm and supplied a kitchen, lodging and laundry area.

Photo Credit goes to the HawaiiReporter.com

Photo from the HawaiiReporter.com NOTE: Photos of Fat Law Farm were provided by the Department of Labor at Hawaii Reporter’s request.

In 2013 the U.S. District Court in Hawaii issued a search warrant that permitted the Wage and Hour investigators to gain access to Fat Law’s Farm and obtain a clear picture of the pay practices and working conditions maintained by the employer.

The investigation revealed that between 2011 and 2013 Fat Law’s Farm failed to pay agricultural workers minimum wage for all hours worked, did not pay overtime wages, failed recording-keeping provisions as required by FLSA, and provided substandard living conditions. DOL was able to determine the company’s Filipino workers were predominantly paid at $7.25 per hour with overtime compensation, but other workers, mainly from Laos, were paid $5 per hour in cash, without overtime, and worked 70 hours per week on average.

In addition to the wage and hour violations, the disparity in pay could lead to an additional investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and may warrant investigations by other agencies to determine if tax, insurance and employee mandate provisions were violated.

For additional information:

Consent Judgment

Hawaii’s Fat Law’s Farm to pay $460,000 for labor violations following US Department of Labor investigation

Fact Sheet #49: The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act

Hawaii Reporter

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Eileen Hess, PHR

Eileen Hess, PHR

Eileen carries out the role of Human Resources Manager for Landrum Professional Employer Services in Pensacola Florida, serving clients in multiple states. In this role, she advises clients on current and trending state and federal laws influencing human resources. Eileen also provides assistance in dispute resolution and utilization of best human resources standards. She serves as a knowledgeable and trusted advisor to clients “helping them to work a better way”. Eileen has over 20 years of human resources experience in the corporate, healthcare, and manufacturing environments, and certified as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) through the Human Resource Certification Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management.

 

 



Equal Pay for Women in the Limelight

Equal Pay for Women in the Limelight

The week of April 7th was an eventful one in Washington D.C. as President Obama signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation. This Executive Order provides a critical tool to encourage pay transparency, so workers have a potential way of discovering violations of equal pay laws and are able to seek appropriate remedies. In addition, by Presidential Memorandum, he asked the Secretary of Labor to require federal contractors to submit data on employee compensation by race and gender. The Department of Labor will use the data to encourage compliance with equal pay laws and to focus efforts where there are suspected discrepancies. After signing these initiatives, President Obama encouraged Congress to pass a Paycheck Fairness Act for the private sector.

Before considering the relative merits of the Paycheck Fairness Act, let’s review past legislation that is already the law of the land.

Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) - The FLSA established minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.

Equal Pay Act (1963) – Amended the Fair Labor Standards Act and aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex.

Civil Rights Act (1964) - Outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (2009) – Amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by stating that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action.

On April 9, 2014, the Senate did indeed consider The Paycheck Fairness Act which would have expanded the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to make it easier for employees to pursue legal claims for unequal pay based solely on the sex of the employee. It would have also allowed employees to share salary information without fear of retaliation, and increase the amount of damages that could be awarded in these types of discrimination lawsuits. Fifty four (54) Senators voted in favor of this legislation but it did not receive enough votes to overcome a partisan filibuster in the Senate.

Those who were in favor of the legislation maintain that women still make just 77 cents on average for every dollar a man earns, and continue to face prejudice in the workplace. According to their research, this gap has held constant since 2002 despite the fact that women make up roughly half of America’s workforce and graduate at a higher rate than men from college and graduate schools. They believe it is time to add some Government enforcement into the Equal Pay Act to reduce or eliminate the gap in pay between women and men.
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As a Landrum Professional Human Resources Manager, Jim is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and has over 20 years of HR generalist experience for a large government contractor and Fortune 500 Company. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Florida State University and is an active member of the Greater Pensacola Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (GPCSHRM), previously serving as their Vice President of Information Services and Chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee. Jim is also certified as a County Mediator and in the administration of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator(MBTI).



Exempt or Non-Exempt, That is the Question

Exempt or Non-Exempt, That is the Question

by Edward Grayson, SPHR on April 8, 2014

Working conditions were different in 1938 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt led efforts to pass the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The act established a maximum number of work hours per week, a minimum wage, overtime for certain jobs and restrictions on child labor. The Department of Labor’s website states, “In its final form, the act applied to industries whose combined employment represented only about one-fifth of the labor force.” The American workplace in 1938 was very different from today. Through years of revisions, current FLSA regulations impact most employers and workers in America. On March 13th, President Obama directed the Department of Labor (DOL) to do its first overhaul of FLSA regulations in 10 years. At the heart of the review will be the President’s instruction to update who qualifies for overtime pay.

To be “exempt” from overtime pay, the FLSA requires an employee to pass a “duties”, “salary level” and “salary basis” test. The duties test requires employers to evaluate the tasks of a specific job and how those tasks align with the employer’s operations. Most likely, a job would pass the duties test if it required managing other employees, exercising independent judgment and discretion, and included non-manual work.

The salary level and basis test concerns the amount and how an employee is paid. To pass the salary level and basis test, the FLSA requires employees to be paid at least $455 per week and, generally speaking, have some or all of their base pay guaranteed regardless of the quality or quantity of work. President Obama’s directive is expected to focus on the salary level test and the qualifications for exemption under the FLSA duties test. However, raising the threshold for the salary level test is expected to be a primary goal of the DOL review. The salary threshold has been raised seven times since 1938 with the most recent change occurring in 2004. The test was originally intended to apply to highly compensated, white-collar employees, but now covers employees earning as little as $23,660 per year.

Preliminary information from DOL and various media articles indicate the threshold for the salary level test could be adjusted for past inflation and raised from a range of $28,756 to $51,168. No one is sure what DOL will propose, but it is expected to be in the upper end of the range. That would be a significant increase from the current level and would certainly have an impact on businesses across the country. In addition, the duties test most likely will require a certain amount of time devoted to “exempt” work and that will require a careful review of a job’s duties and responsibilities. Other changes may include narrowing the exemptions for employees in computer related occupations and outside sales.

At this time, it is not clear whether the FLSA changes will undergo the standard rule making process. If DOL proposes the regulations, it would invite input from business groups and labor organizations, and it is anticipated there would be lobbying on both sides of the proposal before a final rule is published. Consequently, the final result of the President’s directive is projected to be at least 12 to 18 months away.

So, is there anything business owners should be doing? As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Business owners can be proactive by ensuring the jobs in their organizations are classified correctly under current FLSA overtime provisions. It is important to remember that DOL is more concerned about the duties and responsibilities of a job, rather than the job title. A lofty job title does not guarantee exemption. The first step in determining whether a job is exempt or non-exempt from overtime pay should begin with a job description that accurately reflects the duties, responsibilities and accountability of the position. The job description will provide the guideline to determine whether the job is accurately classified. That should be a top priority. A second priority should be ensuring overtime pay is accurately tracked and paid to employees eligible to receive it.

Ensuring compliance with FLSA standards is a wise business practice under any circumstances and may help business owners avoid the cost of incorrectly classifying a job as exempt (For more information, see “Don’t Become a DOL Statistic.” Remember, if a business undergoes a wage and hour audit it will be the business owner’s obligation to explain why jobs are exempt from overtime pay provisions.

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     As the newest member of the Landrum team, Ed Grayson began his role as a Human Resources Manager for Landrum Professional Employer Services at full speed. With more than 27 years of HR experience with a Fortune 500 company, Ed ensures that Landrum clients are in compliance with all local, state and federal laws that impact human resources. He provides advice to business owners and employees regarding the potential resolution of work-related issues and trains and consults with employers on the implementation of Human Resources best practices.

      Ed is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources, Certified Compensation Professional and Certified Benefits Professional. He serves on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee for the Waterfront Rescue Mission, Pensacola, Fla.

Connect with Ed in the comment section of this blog post.  Your feedback is welcome.



State of Florida Offers Free Workplace Safety Seminars

State of Florida Offers Free Workplace Safety Seminars

Information provided by the Landrum Human Resources Risk Management Department on March 18, 2014

Employer responsibility towards ensuring the health and safety of employees in the workplace is not only a legal requirement, it is also essential to the success of any business. In addition to complying with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) workplace safety regulations, employers have an obligation to comply with Florida’s Workers’ Compensation laws. These laws are designed to assure quick and efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to an injured worker and to facilitate the worker’s return to gainful employment.

In order to assist employers to better understand these requirements the State of Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Workers’ Compensation offers free seminars and webinars for employers regarding Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Laws and Workplace Safety.

More information about these programs is available here:

2014 Education Seminar Flyer Mar – June

2014 Education Seminar Registration Form Mar – June

2014 Web Based Registration Mar – Aug

If you have questions or would like to contact the Landrum Human Resources Risk Management Department click here or call 850-476-5100; toll free 800-888-0472.



Can We Talk?

Can We Talk?

by Holly McLeod, PHR on March 11, 2014

Warning:  I’m about to show my age.  It was 1987 and I had just been hired for my first full-time job.  When I completed my employment paperwork, the person who assisted me asked to see my identification documents for this new thing called an I-9 Form.  I was the first new employee hired at this company after the I-9 became mandatory in late 1986.

Next, I was trained on their various new-fangled equipment such as the Xerox 860 – a fancy computer that used 8-inch floppy (as in pliable) disks.  I also learned about this apparatus called the fax machine.  I was fascinated.  “You mean I can send this document over telephone lines and our other offices will see this exact document?  Wow!”  I’m sure my amazement was quite amusing.

The next piece of equipment I learned was a fancy word processor that I only ever knew as the “Documenter.”  It was the first time I had ever seen a machine that could alternate between two whole fonts with the click of a button.  Most amazingly, I could actually change the size of print!  It was the first time I had heard the phrase “click and drag.”

Keep in mind this was still in the days when people actually received pink “While You Were Out” messages and used Liquid Paper to hide typing errors unless, of course, you were one of the lucky few who had a self-correcting typewriter.  This was also a time when people stood around a literal water cooler to have actual face-to-face conversations; when people were genuinely interested in what people did over the weekend or if a coworker’s son pitched any strikeouts in Saturday’s game.

In this day and age we are definitely technology blessed.  It is very convenient to hit the delete button if I type something incorrectly.  It’s great to be able to send a quick text instead of waiting for a letter in the mail.  Voicemail, e-mail, instant messaging and texts have replaced “While You Were Out” message pads; scanning is making fax machines practically obsolete; and computers can now produce hundreds of different fonts.

IMG_1983_mandy&angelaWhile all of this wonderful technology makes our lives easier, I sometimes wonder if we’re replacing relationships with “stuff.”  Relationships are very important to me as an individual, and also to our company.  I strive to get to know the businesses I work with so that they in turn will get to know me.  How can you expect someone to trust your advice, after all, if you haven’t developed a trusting relationship?

It should not be a surprise that quality business relationships are key to continued success.  In an article on Ronald M. Shapiro’s Shapiro Negotiations Institute website, it is stated that “truly successful businesspeople don’t have a mountain of contacts whose names they barely know. Rather, they have a carefully developed and cultivated portfolio of relationships.”  Technology is wonderful and it is definitely needed in this fast-paced world, but talking to friends, family, neighbors, coworkers and customers is the foundation for building relationships – and relationships drive business.

Quality relationships are important within the workplace culture as well.  In an article published in the Houston Chronicle, Kate McFarlin of Demand Media states, “It is important to allow employees the opportunity to build quality relationships with their coworkers.”  She also states, “There are many benefits that can be reaped by small business owners who allow and foster good relationships in the workplace.”  According to McFarlin, those benefits are improved teamwork, improved employee morale, higher employee retention rates, and increased productivity.

So, I encourage you to engage in conversations with your employees and customers, and allow your employees to engage in conversations with each other.  Allow a work culture in which employees can engage in reasonable interactions with each other without the fear of reprimand; work on those business relationships by getting to really know your customers.  Find common ground.  Don’t hesitate to ask someone if their child is still playing baseball, or if they had a good weekend.  Customers and employees alike will appreciate the thoughtfulness, and in turn, will be more loyal to you and your business.

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Holly McLeod is a Human Resources Manager for Landrum Professional Employer Services and Landrum Consulting. She is a certified professional in human resources (PHR) and has more than 15 years of human resources consulting in the corporate world, healthcare and manufacturing environments.



Minimum Wage Executive Order

Minimum Wage Executive Order

by Matilde Keith, PHR on March 4, 2014

On Wednesday, February 12, 2014 the President signed an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 fordollar_bills federal contract workers.  What does this mean for employers?  If you are an employer working under contract with the federal government, the following details apply to your new and replacement contracts.  Here are the details as described in a Fact Sheet released by The White House last week:

  • The new minimum wage of $10.10 will be effective for new contracts beginning January 1, 2015.  As new contracts replace expiring contracts, the new rate will apply.
  • This includes an increase to the tipped minimum wage, meaning tipped workers must earn at least $10.10 overall after combining tips and the new minimum base wage of $4.90 per hour.  The base wage will increase by 95 cents per year until it reaches 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.  Employers have to pay the difference if tips do not add up to at least the new minimum wage.
  • Individuals with disabilities can no longer be paid less than those doing the same job through current specialized certificate programs.  All persons will now be covered by the same minimum wage.

Even if you are not a federal contractor, businesses are starting to think about what impact a higher minimum wage might have.  This is due to many minimum wage increases being imposed at the state and local levels.  In the President’s Weekly Address on February 15th, he calls on Congress to act on a bill they are currently reviewing.  The bill would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

Employers should remember that an increase in wages also means an increase in payroll taxes.  Companies are responsible for paying payroll taxes such as Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax (consists of Social Security and Medicare), as well as Federal unemployment tax (FUTA), and/or State unemployment tax (SUTA).  How much tax an employer pays is a percentage of wages paid, therefore, if the wage increases, so does the amount paid in taxes.

A federal minimum wage increase may also cause compression in your current pay structure for entry level positions.  Compression happens, for example, when you hire a new employee at a pay rate higher than an existing employee doing the same job (oftentimes with the existing employee having more experience).  In order to avoid compression, the existing employee’s pay would need to be increased, which means that even jobs that are currently earning above minimum wage may also have to increase.  Companies should evaluate how to maintain their structures in order to keep the existing relationships between positions.

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Matilde Keith-IMG_3038-3_filtered As a Human Resources Manager for Landrum Professional Employer Services, Matilde Keith, has over five years of human resources experience in the Pensacola, FL area. Keith specializes in salary surveys, compensation and job classification reviews, among other human resources generalist duties. Prior to her current position, Keith worked as an HR Specialist for Landrum Staffing, managing the staffing needs of one of Landrum Staffing’s largest accounts. Keith is a 1st generation Cuban-American, fluent in both English and Spanish. Born and raised in Key West, FL, Keith calls herself “an original Key West Conch”.




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